Professionalism-The Clock is Ticking

Are you really professional 24/7? Being in a professional position and being professional are two different things…

In this post I want to give you my point of view on professionalism.

Right now you are developing a reputation, even though you might think that your behavior doesn’t count yet because, after all, you are only a high school or college student . . . and you might think that you don’t have to demonstrate professional behavior until you graduate from school.

Let me be the first to tell you, the clock is running and has been running for a long time . . . so be careful what you say and do out there because everyone is watching all of us every day and judging us.

Start the habit of being professional right now, if you have not already.  Things can come back to haunt you when you least expect it in life. 

  • Follow the rules in your housing location. 
  • Don’t get caught in a compromising situation:  drugs, alcohol excess, or anything else.  Just get up, and get out of there.
  • Stay out of things that can get you into trouble with us or the law.
  • Show up for work.  I have never called in sick one time in my career unless I was really sick.  Drinking too much does not count as sick.  Sick is a natural thing.  Hangovers are self-induced.

A minor example of being unprofessional happened to me at the grocery store just this week.  Two young employees  were working in the store, and two customers walked up while the two employees were complaining about their roommates, their pay, and their company  This was pure unprofessional behavior.

You should not be discussing these things in front of our customers.  If you don’t like the company, or the pay, or whatever, then you have to choose to quit and go home or go somewhere else . . . or choose to get positive and take advantage of one of the best opportunities you will ever have, which is work experience.  At the least, if you want to complain about these things, do it with someone who has the authority to do something about it.  Complaining to your buddy in front of customers is not going to change anything, and it is just downright unprofessional.

I can tell you one thing, and that is in every job I had as a young person I thought I was underpaid, under-appreciated, and many other unders (“unders” is a new word I made up) . . . but one thing that I received was great experience, which pays off big time in the future. 

You are not in your first jobs to make your fortune.  You are there to gather up all of the experience you can get. Hang in there, and be professional 24 hours a day….Lee

  1. Lee,

    Your thoughts are on the money.

    One consideration that you did
    not capture is the display of
    unprofessional behavior in the
    online world. Young (and older)
    people need to be reminded that
    your behavior displayed online
    is an open book, available for
    any potential employer to
    review. Consideration should be
    taken before you upload that
    video, photo or biased tirade
    as to not who views/reads it
    now, but in the future.

    Thanks again for your insight.



  2. Right on Lee. What we do can have more of an impact than what we say. This reminds me of Michael Phelps comments on his return from his suspension. He was going to be more observant of those around him and pay attention if he was being watched. It seems like that would be a moot point if he follows your advice.

  3. Again; you are “spot on”. I continue to use the information in your book for our Year of Leadership in Air Force Space Command – thank you for your insights!

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